NEW YORK: Democratic lawmakers plan to hold public hearings in Buffalo and Mineola next month on legalizing marijuana for treating medical conditions.
The hearings are part of an ongoing push by certain lawmakers in Albany to sanction marijuana cultivation, sales and use for certain diagnoses like cancer and other debilitating or life-threatening diseases. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have established some form of legalization for medical marijuana.
In New York, the Democratically-controlled state Assembly has passed a version of the legalization in past years. The Senate, run mostly by more conservative members in recent years, has yet to take up the issue for a vote.
Those dynamics have shifted ever-so-slightly, especially now that Senate Republicans share control of the upper house with a small group of independent Democrats. One of those Democrats, Sen. Diane Savino, of Staten Island, is a key supporter of legalizing marijuana for medical use.
But Gov. Andrew Cuomo, also a Democrat and the former top law enforcement official for the state, has not embraced legalization of marijuana for health issues. He has left the door open for talks.
A bill proposed by Savino and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan would regulate the dispensing and sales of marijuana.